Report: Tesla Could Be Hogging Batteries And Causing A Global Shortage 

Tesla seems to be working out its manufacturing bottleneck issues that were partially responsible for a $US619 million ($819 million) loss last quarter. But the company's solution might be causing a global battery shortage.

Photo: Getty

According to a report from the Korean news outlet ETNews, Panasonic recently gave most of its cache of batteries in Japan to Tesla so that the automaker and energy-storage company could keep up with its ambitious production schedule. Tesla and Panasonic both operate Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nevada. Tesla primarily uses the factory to produce electric vehicle batteries as well as Powerwall and Powerpack batteries for home energy storage.

Panasonic is the biggest automotive lithium-ion battery supplier in the world. Tesla makes battery packs for its vehicles by adding its own technology to Panasonic-manufactured battery cells.

In early October, Tesla struggled with a "production bottleneck", but by the end of the month Panasonic stated it would increase battery output at the Gigafactory, now that it understood the issues that led to the bottleneck and could automate some of the processes that had been done by hand.

But this likely did not help Tesla fix any immediate shortage issues. ETNews claims that Panasonic is coping with the shortage by shipping batteries in from Japan. And many Japanese companies in need of cylinder batteries have turned to other suppliers such as LG, Murata and Samsung - but those companies have not been able to meet the demands.

Reportedly, companies that had contracts before 2017 aren't affected by the shortage, but several other manufacturers have not been able to place orders for batteries, and won't be able to order more batteries until the middle of next year.

It is worth noting that this report comes solely from ETNews, which cites unnamed sources in the Japan battery industry. Electrek, a news site that covers electric transportation, has expressed scepticism in its own report: "Our understanding at this point is that Tesla's issues at Gigafactory 1 are with battery module production, which creates a bottleneck for the production of Model 3 battery packs," Electrek editor Fred Lambert writes. "Model 3 battery packs are made with 2170 battery cells made by Panasonic at the factory. Unless Tesla and Panasonic are not being straightforward about the issues at Gigafactory 1, there's no reason for them to be sending any cells from Japan for Model 3 production."

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the report.

[ETNews, Engadget]

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Comments

    Errr, perhaps the 100 day deal in Sth Aust and generous Puerto Rico emergency relief wouldn't have helped any.

    Meh, it's time to move on to one of the alternatives anyway, there are quite a few up and coming new battery technologies that require little or even no Lithium. They are more efficient and cheaper to make to boot.

      None of the alternatives have been through the necessary testing and verification procedures, which are mandatory for new battery tech before its scaled up to commercial-scale production. These batteries are needed now, not in a few years time.

        I think you'll find there are alternatives that will be available sooner than you think. Besides that, whether they available now or not, it is still time to move on. In other words, Lithium is going to be redundant sooner rather than later, I just hope Musk has factored this into his business model, otherwise, he could just have painted himself into a corner.

          Don't worry, I'm sure our inspiring Elon has thought of or will think of this when the time comes, and will paint himself a car, rocket, or fence, as opposed to a corner.

      There are always new up and coming technologies. Yet non to date have matured into commercial products.

        And they never will with such a sceptical attitude. I honestly don't understand the downvotes, when all I was intimating was that a change is coming soon and is inevitable.

          Unfortunately, mark_d is right. There are a lot of new break throughs in the labs, but scaling these technologies up always proves difficult. Iv been reading about new battery technologies every day for 5 years and never seen a new breakthrough that doesnt use lithium. It will eventually come, but I wouldnt say it going to be right around the corner.

            Redflow have a commercial product that isn't more of the same. However like most tech atm, they have found serious issues competing against lithium. Biggest two for Redflow being:
            * Total Cost; and
            * Maintenance.

    This has always been the sticking point with batteries - right now they aren't very environmentally friendly to produce or dispose of. So far no new battery has been proven efficient for mass production.

    From reports elsewhere i had assumed the bottleneck in the gigafactory was all about automating the assembly of battery packs?
    I couldnt imagine their battery making machines themselves would be causing issues.

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